NOVA Grad Plans to Mix Passion for Eastern Languages with a Future in Finance

May 26, 2023

Nicole Goldberg is a brand-new NOVA grad! She took part in NOVA’s spring commencement on May 15.

Ever since Nicole took her first Chinese class in elementary school, she fell in love with the language and culture. Nicole graduated with an associate in liberal arts from NOVA but also took some accounting and economics classes.

Nicole realized she wanted a stable career where she could use her Chinese language skills. She’s now pursuing a bachelor’s in business administration-accounting, and afterward, she wants to work for a global finance company that has connections in Eastern Asia. Ideally, she wants to stay in the Northern Virginia area because she loves it and sees opportunities here.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background: 
I had an amazing opportunity to learn Chinese for about four years as a student at Fairhill Elementary School in Fairfax. It was completely new to me, and I found it super challenging and different. Ever since then, I’ve been very interested in studying the languages and cultures of other countries.

While my middle school had Chinese classes, I had scheduling conflicts and couldn’t enroll in them. My high school, W.T. Woodson, didn’t offer it, so I continued studying Chinese at my past elementary school. It wasn’t until NOVA that I had a formal language class again.

What brought you to NOVA? 
In 2018 in high school, I did dual enrollment with NOVA’s online program. I did it so I could adjust to college-level work. Also, I did it to free up my schedule since I began working. Then in the summers, I would take in-person math classes at the Annandale Campus.

After graduating high school, I started at a four-year university in August 2019. COVID hit while I was doing a study abroad program in February of 2020. We were told if we didn’t return home to the States then, that they couldn’t guarantee us the ability to extend our student visas or get us back home later. You have to remember, at that time, no one knew what would happen, so I returned home only after being away for a little over a month.

After returning home, I decided I didn’t want to return to the four-year university due to the uncertainty ahead. Instead, I wanted to continue my education with NOVA’s online program, since I was already comfortable with it. I returned to NOVA in August 2020 to finish my associates.

What are you studying at NOVA?
I had initially planned to study East Asian languages at a four-year university. But toward the end of earning my associate degree in liberal arts at NOVA, I experimented and took some accounting and economics courses. I had decided I needed a more practical degree and marketable skill set. That’s why I’m now working on a bachelor’s in accounting. I also picked it since my mother studied and practiced accounting, so it wasn’t completely unfamiliar to me.

Even though I took accounting classes, I continued to study Chinese under Dr. Dali Tan at NOVA. She was my professor for several semesters. I want to say that I am very grateful to her. She had recommended me for a lot of programs that I applied to and got into.

Tell Us About Your Experience at NOVA, i.e., professors you’ve liked and friends you’ve met.
Some of my favorite experiences have been those my Chinese professor Dr. Tan recommended to me. She is very persistent about sending out emails for student opportunities.

She shared with me a new pilot program by the State Department called CLS – Spark. It is an online bi-weekly scholarship opportunity for students studying foreign languages that are critical for the U.S. government. I received free Chinese language lessons from professors at Tamkang University in Taiwan for about nine months. It also provided networking opportunities with former alumni and current employees of the State Department. I wouldn’t have been able to participate in this incredible experience without Dr. Tan.

I pretty much did my entire associate degree at NOVA online. I enjoyed the small classes; they really helped me. For example, in my Chinese class, we had four or five other students attending the Zoom meetings. It really helped to get more out of the course than if it were held in a 200-person lecture hall.

What would you tell a student coming to NOVA?
I recommend they check out all opportunities shared by their professors, Student Life notices or the NOVA student newsletter. I have partaken in countless free festivals, talks, crafts and even future employment opportunities just by consistently reading the announcements and newsletters that are sent out.

Where do you see yourself after NOVA or what career pursuits are you exploring?
I started classes at Fort Hays State University in Kansas this summer. Through their online program, I will earn my B.B.A. (bachelor’s in business administration-accounting).

Post-NOVA and bachelor’s, I see myself working at an international accounting firm or corporation in Northern Virginia that has branch offices in Eastern Asia. I am hoping to combine my practical knowledge of accounting with my love of the Chinese language.

Topics: featured article, student success